The FBI has known this for decades: If you want to know the soul and the deepest worries of a person, check out what books they're reading.
In the case of Portland, it seems we're worried about whether the American republic is at its end. 1984, George Orwell's dark 1949 anti-fascist parable, is the seventh most-bought book of literature at Powell's City of Books this year.
The post WWII novel, which tells the story of a dictatorial state run by a pseudobenevolent Big Brother, was the only book in the top 10 that wasn't written in the past three or four years.
The number one nonfiction best-seller, meanwhile, was Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny, a slim, intense 128-page volume drawing grim lessons from the totalitarian century that came before. "The danger we now face is of a passage from the politics of inevitability to the politics of eternity," Snyder writes, "from a naive and flawed sort of democratic republic to a confused and cynical sort of fascist oligarchy."
Also directly responsive to the political moment is we should all be feministsof the political moment is We Should All Be Feminists, adapted from a TED talk byu Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Much sadder and more grotesque is the appearance of Al Franken's memoir Giant of the Senate on the nonfiction best-seller list—a name sometimes floated on social media as a potential presidential candidate, before his announcement he'd resign January 2 in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
But then again, it appears some would rather forget politics that extend beyond the self.
Both the first and third place literature best-sellers were taken up with typographically idiosyncratic, Instagram-famous self-help poet Rupi Kaur—the author of such pristine nuggets as "if you were born with/ the weakness to fall/ you were born with / the strength to rise."
Other books on the best-seller list (Handmaids Tale, Ready Player One) follow the HBO and box office queue, or offer local guides and histories, .
Here's the full fiction and nonfiction top 10.
- Milk & Honey – Rupi Kaur
- Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood
- Sun & Her Flowers – Rupi Kaur
- Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
- American Gods – Neil Gaiman
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
- 1984 – George Orwell
- Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
- Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
- Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen
- On Tyranny – Timothy Snyder
- Mindfulness on the Go – Jan Chozen Bays
- Astoria – Peter Stark
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
- This is Portland – Alexander Barrett
- You are a Badass – Jen Sincero
- We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
- Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
- Al Franken Giant of the Senate – Al Franken